How to Design Your Own Tattoo

Making your own tattoo is a great way to permanently decorate your body with an image or symbol that means a lot to you. A unique design is also an excellent way to express yourself or stand out from the crowd!

Part 1 Finding Inspiration

1. Look for tattoo ideas and themes on the internet. Perform a quick Google search for tattoos that are similar to the one you want. For example, if you’re thinking about getting a travel-themed or geometric tattoo, look for images of those types of tattoos. Similarly, if you want to design a sleeve tattoo, search online for sleeve designs. Even if you decide to go a different route with your own design, seeing images of other people’s tattoos can serve as inspiration.

Examine social media as well. Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram are great places to get inspiration.

Online portfolios of tattoo artists are also available.

2. Examine tattoo magazines. These are an excellent way to learn about new developments in the tattoo world as well as get ideas for your own tattoo. Popular tattoo magazines such as INKED, TATTOO, and Skin Deep can be found online or at your local bookstore or newsstand.

3. Flip through the pages of an art book. Spend a few hours doing this at a nearby bookstore or library. Art books, particularly those focusing on tattoo art, are an excellent way to become acquainted with various types of designs as well as to learn about the history of many artistic developments, which can in turn add meaning and depth to your own work.

Look for inspiration and themes in books from different art periods that interest you.

If you can, buy or borrow the book. If you don’t have permission, take a picture of the images that catch your eye or make a photocopy of the pages they’re on so you can refer to them at home.

4. Consider what is important to you. While you may want to get a tattoo simply because you like the design, creating a tattoo with personal meaning for you can be a very rewarding experience. Consider tattooing important dates, such as birthdates or wedding dates, your zodiac sign, a portrait of someone special to you, or a favourite quotation.

Other ideas include a favourite flower, animal, or character, something meaningful to your family or the location where you live, or something you don’t want to forget.

Part 2 Drawing the Tattoo

1. Keep a journal where you can write down your thoughts. It’s time to get creative! Make a collage out of magazines that represents the colour scheme or mood you want to convey with your tattoo. Create an inspiration board that evokes the emotion you want your design to convey. You could also keep a diary and jot down words that come to mind when you’re thinking about the design you want.

If you want the tattoo artist to design or draw the tattoo for you, this can be extremely useful.

2. Make a design sketch. If you can draw, sketching the tattoo is an excellent way to provide your tattoo artist with a more accurate picture of what you want inked when you visit the parlour. Draw the tattoo to scale on a piece of paper. Don’t be afraid to go through multiple draughts – you’re drawing something that will be permanently attached to your body, so take your time and refine the sketch until it’s just right.

You can make a rough sketch and take it to the tattoo artist. In turn, the artist can refine your vision and bring the design closer to what you had in mind, as well as advise you on feasibility and cost.

If you don’t know how to draw, ask a friend or a freelancer to do it for you. Alternatively, you could seek assistance from a website such as Fiverr. You can even work with a tattoo artist by explaining the design you want and asking for advice on location, colour, and ink type. You will need to carefully explain your vision and will most likely go through multiple draughts until the drawing is just right.

3. Choose timelessness. Trends come and go, but a tattoo lasts a lifetime. Determine whether your tattoo will age well by asking yourself questions like, “How likely am I to have the same interests and beliefs in 10 or 20 years?” Is this a spur-of-the-moment decision, or one that has been given careful consideration? Before getting a tattoo, it’s best to think about it for several months.

Tattoos of animals, flowers, skulls, maps, or nautical symbols are examples of timeless tattoos.

Another way to test timelessness is to tape your design to a wall and stare at it every day for a few months. While that may seem like a long time, if you get tired of looking at the design, you will have time to reconsider whether this is something you want permanently inked on your body.

4. Order a custom temporary tattoo. If you want to test out your design before committing to it, you can order a temporary custom tattoo from a site like Etsy or Momentary Ink. Send in your design online, and the seller will create a temporary tattoo for you.

You can also ask your tattoo artist if they can first do a skin transfer of the design. During your initial design consultation, request this.

Part 3 Collaborating with a Tattoo Artist

1. Limit the number of artists you’re interested in. Examine the websites of local tattoo parlours and the portfolios of various artists in your area. Every tattoo artist has their own unique style, and you should make sure that your requirements match the artist’s expertise.

Ensure that the artists are properly licenced. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state, so only choose a tattoo artist who has a practitioner permit. When you visit the tattoo parlour, request to see the licence.

Sort the artists according to their area of expertise. For example, if you know you want a portrait tattooed, include only artists who have experience with portraiture on your list.

2. Make an appointment for a design consultation. Most tattoo parlours offer free consultations by appointment, so take advantage of this opportunity to get to know the artist and determine whether you feel comfortable having them tattoo you. When getting a tattoo, trust in the artist is essential because you want the artist to focus their full attention on you and not be easily distracted.

Some artists may require a consultation deposit. The money is used to cover both the time it takes the artist to create the design and the time they spend tattooing you.

Ask the tattoo artist any questions you have, from the pain factor to the number of sessions required for your tattoo. You want to work with an artist who will patiently answer all of your questions.

After your visit, consider how at ease you were in the parlour as well as the artist’s demeanour. Consider whether the tattoo artist was enthusiastic and agreed with your vision for the tattoo, as well as the cleanliness of the parlour.

3. Describe your vision. It is critical to go into a design consultation with a clear idea of the tattoo you want or, at the very least, a concept that you want to bring to life. Otherwise, it’s easy to be swayed by what an artist wants to design and end up with a tattoo that wasn’t really what you wanted. Show the artist your inspiration board, sketches, and word diary during the consultation.

Find someone who understands your vision and is eager to make it a reality. The last thing you want is to be at odds with an artist who does not share your vision.

Ideally, you and the artist should work together to create a design that you both like and that they enjoy creating. If you can’t reach an agreement, look for a different artist. You don’t want the artist to be hesitant or uninterested in finishing your tattoo.

Part 4 Figuring Out the Logistics

1. Choose where you want the tattoo to go on your body. When deciding where to get inked, keep visibility, sensitivity, and discretion in mind. This will impose constraints on your tattoo design, such as size. Consider whether you want the tattoo to be visible to everyone, in which case you could tattoo your arms or legs, or whether you want it to be more private, in which case you could tattoo your lower back, shoulders, or stomach.

2. Consider the issue of pain. A larger or more intricate tattoo created with different needle sizes will most likely hurt more, especially since thicker needles pierce more skin than thinner ones. Keep in mind that different parts of the body have different sensitivities. Parts of the body with more bone and less fat tend to be more painful. Because the wrists, for example, are highly sensitive, getting inked there may cause more pain.

Pain is a highly subjective experience. Some claim that the initial outline of the tattoo is more painful, especially if this is your first time getting inked, while others claim that the shading is more painful because the artist is packing colour or ink into the same areas over and over. If you want to avoid shading, choose a simple, minimalistic tattoo design.

Pain is a natural part of the healing process, so prepare yourself. Remember, it’ll be worth it because you’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind tattoo!

3. Choose the type of colouring you want. Tattoo colour can influence the design you create; for example, colour tattoos may be better suited for smaller designs, requiring fewer touch-ups. Black and grey tattoos last longer than colour tattoos, are less expensive, and take less time to complete. Color tattoos allow for greater creativity, are ideal for concealing existing tattoos, and contrast dramatically with light to medium skin tones.

Inquire with your tattoo artist about the best type of colouring for you.

Depending on the type of design you want to create and the visibility you want the tattoo to have, you might also want to consider getting a tattoo done in white ink. White ink tattoos are often less noticeable than monochrome or colour tattoos.

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